Page:The Bank of England and the State, 1905.djvu/24

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The Bank of England and the State.

directly or indirectly, in the discount of bills. Under ordinary circumstances it may perhaps matter little in effect whether the funds put out are employed immediately by the body which dispenses them in the operation of discount or in investments of public securities. In either case they would find their way into the money market and be applied to the purposes of trade; but when the demands for money are great, and the rate of interest consequently high, great advantages are afforded by the resource the Bank of England affords under the system of management now pursued; such houses are assured that the funds at the disposal of the Bank will always be available for the legitimate objects of trade at the current rate of interest. Whence ensues that confidence which is derived from uniformity of system. The Bank of England has then come to be regarded as the centre and mainstay of mercantile credit."

That the Bank was so regarded is clear from the tendency of the whole of the enquiry. Witnesses were specially asked whether every house which applied, and deserved assistance, received it. From the evidence it appears that the Directors of the Bank of England went into the country to examine the accounts of banks in difficulties, in order to render assistance if they appeared to be sound.

The Governor of the Bank of England was asked: "You did not refuse accommodation to any person, even up to the time when the Act was suspended, who brought you good securities." The answer was "No."

"I think you have admitted that you did not act during that time upon purely banking considerations, but that you had public considerations in view?" "Yes."

"You admit that the course which the relative position the Bank took during that period is not one strictly in accordance with general banking rules?" "Yes."

"Was it entirely upon your own responsibility as directors of the Bank of England that you pursued that course of business?" I think it was with our view of the nature of the functions of